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Protests increase in Tibet amid key Congress: Rights groups

Saturday, 10 November 2012 - 6:17pm IST | Place: Beijing | Agency: PTI
Reports say hundreds of Tibetans took part in a demonstration shouting anti-government slogans

Tibet has been witnessing stepped up anti-government protests, including self-immolations, coinciding with the once-in-a-decade leadership change at the ruling CPC Congress here, according to rights groups.

A video report by the Voice of America, which also has a Tibetan Radio service said hundreds of Tibetans took part in a demonstration in front of government offices in Rebkong, a town in the western Qinghai Province, shouting anti-government slogans.

Estimates ranged from hundreds to thousands of protesters who began gathering on the streets. Many said they were speaking out against China's education system.

"Our sources have confirmed that many of the students have been calling for freedom of language and for the return of his Holiness, the Dalai Lama," Stephanie Brigden, executive director of rights group Free Tibet told VOA.

Besides protest demonstrations, six self-immolation cases have been reported from Tibetan areas during the past few days.

The week-long Communist Party of China's Congress began here on November 8 to select new leaders to govern the country for the next ten years.

Tight security measures have been taken at the Tiananmen square to guard the Great Hall of the People where the Congress is being held.

The Security measures included policemen armed with fire extinguishers to douse flames in the event of any attempts of self-immolation here.

This month the United Nations' most senior human rights official urged China to allow independent monitors and journalists to visit Tibetan areas where immolations have taken place.

Top Tibetan officials attending the Congress here rejected the proposal.

Qiangba Puncog, a chief delegate from the Tibet Autonomous Region, said that China does not welcome some people, who think Tibet has many problems, human rights issues.

The Tibetan officials blamed the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan "separatists" for the self-immolations.

VOA report said protesters are mostly students and monks.

While security forces have not yet intervened in the protests, police and armed forces have reportedly been deployed outside major Chinese government offices where people are demonstrating, the report said.

Tibetans gathered in the same area to mourn at the funeral of Kalsang Jinpa, who set himself on fire to protest China's policies on Tibet.

Witnesses say the 18-year-old raised a banner calling for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet. There have been three self-immolations in Rebkong this month.




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